The face of youth tobacco use is changing according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While fewer youth are smoking overall, over 40% of the youth that do smoke are turning to flavored little cigars or cigarettes due to availability and affordable cost.
Walk into any corner store or gas station in urban communities and you will see these products prominently displayed among other candy products featuring the same flavors, like cherry, apple and melon. Though the flavors in these little cigars and cigarillos mask the harshness of tobacco, these products carry the same risk as other tobacco products, including increased risk of developing lung, throat, and mouth cancer.
Another reason these products may be more appealing to young people is their cheaper price. While a pack of cigarettes typically costs between $6-8 in Wisconsin, a 20-pack of flavored cigars can be bought for around $3. Why should little cigars and other cigarette-like products be treated differently from other tobacco products when the tobacco levels are the same or greater?
If you are like me and are concerned about the marketing tactics of big tobacco, I urge you to join the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network’s FACT group and learn more about local tobacco prevention efforts. Visit our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/waatpn for more information.
Free help is available for all tobacco users ready to quit. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Rufus King International School